October 29, 2007 - How Do You Recover From Disaster?


How Do You Recover From Disaster?
By Rick Warren

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4 NIV)

This past week, many of us have watched as the worst disaster in Southern California history has unfolded. It will take years to recover. You may live far away from California, but more than likely you’ll face some form of hardship in your life (you may even be facing one now). In this guest devotional, Pastor Rick Warren explains three biblical principles for recovering from any disaster:

First, release your grief
Maybe you’ve wept as you witnessed the horrible losses of life and property in California. Maybe you've lost a family member or a home or business yourself. When you face a crisis, it’s normal to feel all sorts of emotions – fear, anger, worry, depression, resentment, helplessness, grief.

It does no good to stuff emotions or deny they exist. God created us to feel emotions, and he doesn't expect us to act happy when we’re grieving. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” That means it is OK to be honest about our grief. “Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalms 62:8 NLT) God wants to comfortus in tragedy. He is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Second, receive help from others
It’s a huge mistake to isolate yourself when you’re going through a crisis. We all need the support, encouragement, and presence of other people, particularly in the aftermath of tragedy. The Bible tells us that when we carry one another’s burdens, we obey the Law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Third, reject the urge to be bitterness
Some people become bitter when faced with hardship – but bitterness is a choice we make. You don’t have to be bitter. If you choose bitterness, you’ll only end up hurting yourself – and you’ll shut the door on happiness because you can’t be happy and bitter at the same time.

What now?

· Your response to disaster is a choice – As I’ve watched television interviews related to the California wildfires, there are some victims who say, “We lost it all, and we’re sad, but we’re still together as a family, and we’re going to work together and rebuild.” Yet others say, “My life is over! I just don’t see how I can go on from here; I don’t think I can ever recover from this.” It’s not an easy choice, but it is a choice between believing God is still in control or believing you’re on your own.

· Your joy comes from God, not your circumstances – There’s absolutely no correlation in life between your circumstances and your joy. None whatsoever! Joy comes from within. It is based on who you trust, not what you see or feel. When you give your grief to God, he is faithful to comfort you (Matthew 5:4).

· Focus on what you have – When you experience disaster, focus on what you still have, not on what’s lost. Tell God you’re thankful for what you still have. Make a list of all the good things inyour life. Personally, I find it is impossible to be grateful and depressed at the same time.